Our Recent Cardiac Escapade

August 1, 2019

Greetings, Friends ~

Here is the promised update on our cardiac medical adventure.  We hope you find this informative, helpful and hopeful.

Harry had his surgery on Wednesday 12 June 2019 and was home the following Sunday afternoon!  We went back three weeks later for the surgical follow-up and to get his staples out.  He was doing so well that they dismissed him with no need for further care nor need for the usual several month ‘cardiac rehab’… just the usual temporary restrictions on lifting, driving, etc.  (Which, of course, are driving him mad.)

He is recovering amazingly!  His excellent progress owes much to his general good pre-surgery health (aside from the defective aortic heart valve, of course); Deb’s pre-surgery preparations feeding him well and filling him full of appropriate herbs and supplements; those herbs and supplements she gave him before and after surgery; and, of course, the skilled medical staff and the loving care during and after his hospital stay.

In the hospital – especially during the time in post-operative intensive care – the doctors and nurses were surprisingly accepting of our herbal administrations.

Following surgery, it is customary – actually necessary – to restrain patients in ICU so they do not remove or dislodge the many tubes, probes, ports and monitors or inflict damage in their delirium and confusion as they emerge from anesthesia.  Harry indeed experienced this agitation and struggled against his bonds.  

He also suffered from extreme nausea as he came out of anesthesia.  Deb offered to the ICU nurse a spray of our Red Clover flower essence we had prepared to act as a calming agent due to the shock of the surgery.  Deb applied the spray to acupressure points on Harry’s wrists and ankles with almost immediate reduction of his agitation and struggles and his systolic blood pressure dropped by nearly 20 points.  She also massaged the spray into Harry’s feet – and the nurse continued to do this throughout the night.  When Harry could start drinking after the tubes were out of his throat, he drank coconut water and natural electrolyte drinks we brought from home ~ we turned down offers of soda pop.  Also, he sucked on Slippery Elm lozenges to soothe his throat irritated by the tubes once they were removed.  Most importantly, we had made a flower essence mix spray of Wood Betony (to ‘ground’ his body after anesthesia), Yarrow (for continued general protection), Comfrey (for overall healing) and Red Clover (for shock) which we used during Harry’s whole hospital stay. 

After Harry was transferred from the ICU to the cardiac recovery unit, vampires visited him four times a day (at least) to draw blood for various monitoring testing.  Eventually, there were little dark bruises on every one of his fingers.  (Mercifully his thumbs were spared!)  A couple of applications of Yarrow (in this case, a mix of the flower essence and tincture) cleared the bruises in short order!

Deb continued to give him coconut water as well as miso soup, nettle tea and ginger tea.  We also began using homeopathic remedies  – Staphysagria for relief after surgery in addition to Comfrey, Calcarea Carbonica, Calcarea Phosphorica and Boneset to aid the healing of his sternum. 

Thankfully, our surgeon’s nurse practitioner patiently went through the list of over 35 herbs we said we may use to aide Harry’s recovery.  Of that list, there were only two herbs they wanted us to stop prior to surgery and to avoid for a while after returning home – both were cardio-active herbs which, as best we could determine would either counter or duplicate the effects of some of the pharmaceutical compounds on which they rely following heart surgery.

Since we have been home, we have done much of what we did for Harry’s broken back ~ except now using tinctures.  Boneset for bone healing, Comfrey for bone and soft-tissue healing, Solomon’s Seal to help heal and keep intercostal ligaments supple.

The only other difference from treating his back is we used a ‘dry poultice’ on his incision since instructions were for no wetness until the staples came out.  So instead of the usual wet herb poultice, Deb put dried Comfrey, Boneset and Yarrow leaves in an old pillowcase and Harry would keep that on for several hours a day.  We also have made daily infusions of Nettles, Linden, Oat Straw, Comfrey or Red Clover to accelerate his healing along with many additional supplements such as Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Selenium and others.  We employed the use of Modified Citrus Pectin to bind and remove the toxins left in his body from the anesthesia and other pharmaceuticals given in the hospital.

At this time, Harry is off ALL cardiac pharmaceutical medications!  Hurray!  We are so very happy with his progress!

As restrictions are lifted, we are happy to report Harry is doing light chores in our garden, cooking some (Yahoo!, his guacamole is back on the menu!), doing some herb harvesting and preparation, has walked as much as 1½ miles and is anxious to get back into the woodshop.  All in all, incredibly, this journey has been 10 times… no probably 100 times – easier than his recovery from his broken back last year.

Frustratingly, as is sometimes the case after a ‘trauma’ like surgery, Harry has developed a case of shingles.  Luckily, thanks to his phenomenal immune system and our quick use of Calendula oil and Lemon Balm infusions (even though we did not exactly know what he had), his rash was not nearly as painful as a typical case of shingles can be.  Nor did his rash ever advance to the point of blisters before he began a course of a pharmaceutical antiviral which has knocked it out.

We sincerely, deeply, devoutly pray this is the last of our need for intensive medical care for a very long time!  Thank you again for your support and prayers.

And YES, we are both already happily back in business!  Please do not hesitate to contact Deb if you’d like to know details Harry’s care during this adventure or if you need other support in your life.  Deb’s assistance is not limited to herbs ~ she happily shares her empathy, compassion and care with friends, family and clients at Sacred Living as well as here on Grandparents of the Forest

As you may notice in the first photo above, Harry had to shave his wonderful beard for the surgery.  It is slowly coming back in, but sadly, we have no remedy for quickly re-growing it.  If you have suggestions, do tell! 

Organized under Deb, Harry, Herbs, Medicinal. No comments.

You have a Friend in Solomon(‘s Seal)

March 26, 2019

We have come to rely on Solomon’s Seal as one of our favorite plants and remedies for all kind’s of joint and tendon issues. 

[But first, let us say that we are not dispensing medical advice or making suggestions for treatment of any disease or condition.  We are merely reporting our experiences.  Seek proper medical advice for any medical condition about which you are concerned.  Any statements and claims regarding any product or advice offered have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).]

The Plant

The Solomon’s Seal plant (Polygonatum spp. – there are several species, all of which seem to produce the discussed results) is a simple, pretty plant.  There are even a few varieties that have been bred as ornamental specimens for the home garden.  The plant has a single non-branching aerial stem – usually about 1 to 3 feet tall, simple alternate leaves with parallel veins and whitish/pale green/cream flowers that hang down from the axil of the leaf attachment.
Depending on the species, the flowers may occur singly, doubly or a few per leaf axil.  Blooming usually occurs in early summer and the resulting (inedible) fruit is a dark blue round berry.

The ‘root’ – a rhizome or underground stem actually – is the plant part used.  The shape or form of the rhizome is a clue of its usefulness.  In herbal medicinal studies, there is a principal known as the ‘doctrine of signatures’.  This doctrine implies that a plant’s appearance gives clues to its use.  Looking at the rhizome, one can imagine one is looking at a string of knuckles or vertebrae:  thus the plant offers aid in the health or healing of joints!  The “seal” part of the name comes from the ‘scar’ of previous years’ aerial stem attachments.  The photo below shows the ‘true’ rhizome on the left and the ‘False’ rhizome on the right. 

The rhizome’s active components can be extracted with ethyl alcohol (producing a tincture) or vegetable oils (like olive oil) which can then be used to make a salve.  The dosage is either a few drops of the tincture taken orally or some of the oil, salve or tincture applied to the skin and rubbed in.  The main action of Solomon’s Seal in our experience is to help the body lubricate joints and tone tendons.

There is another plant that looks very similar to Solomon’s Seal, including the rhizome ‘signature’ (see above), called False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosa).  The main difference is False Solomon’s Seal – or Solomon’s Plume – has its flowers and fruit in a cluster of small white flowers at the end of the stem.  It has the same healing properties except this one is more effective or more specific at working on small joints:  fingers and toes.  We have used this to good effect also…


A couple of years ago, Harry’s age seemed to begin to manifest with stiff, sore fingers when he awoke each morning.  Once it became clear this was not merely pain and stiffness from overuse the day before, he rubbed 3 or 4 drops of the False Solomon’s Seal tincture into his fingers each evening at bedtime.  After about 2 weeks, he no longer had the morning pain, so he discontinued use.  The stiffness has not returned.

 In the words of one client about true Solomon’s Seal for fingers ~
“For many years I’ve had a condition affecting my left index finger.  The knuckles on the first and second fingers swell and I have been unable to close my hand into a fist.  My orthopedic surgeon calls it ‘trigger finger’.  The condition has been severe enough to keep me awake at night due to pain.  Steroid shots have been relatively ineffective.  Recently, at Deb’s suggestion, I tried Solomon’s Seal Oil [Solomon’s Seal root extracted in olive oil], applying it twice a day.  After three days of using the oil, the swelling had gone down markedly, along with the pain, and I was able to flex and use the hand.  I can now clench it almost completely closed, something I have not been able to do for several years.  I was doubtful, but it works!”

Another client was complaining of knee pain.  He took a bottle of our Solomon’s Seal tincture with instructions to rub a few drops into his knee (and if he was so inclined, 3 or 4 drops orally) two or three times a day.  When last asked, he had no problem with his knee.

Deb also uses Solomon’s Seal for knee and joint issues due to Lyme disease.  Originally, she was diagnosed with a torn meniscus (again from a doctor using his specialist’s straw perspective, see a previous post) ~ her knee was swollen and unstable for months.  Her right knee would swell so large that she couldn’t wear pants and needed to use crutches.  Herbalist Matthew Wood suggested Solomon’s Seal, which seemed to be appearing nearer and nearer to our house.  [Another ‘indicator’ that a plant’s services are needed. Having plants show up at our door ‘magically’ is part of why we started studying herbalism!]  Within a month, Deb was able to abandon the crutches and start wearing jeans again.  She takes it regularly to aid her joints and to help with joint pain.

Another client bought a jar of our Solomon’s Seal Salve for her knee and she wrote us:
“I injured my left knee 2 years ago. I finally went to the doctor on February 28th 2019.  Almost 2 years exact from injury.  They took an x-ray and determined that I had bruised the back side of my kneecap.  And with this all of the muscles surrounding my knee went out of balance.  This caused my knee cap to no longer slide in the groove it’s supposed to which is what’s been causing me pain ever since.  My doctor recommended physical therapy.  With the hopes of stretching out the muscles on the outer left side of my knee and strengthening the inner right side in an effort to pull the kneecap back into alignment.  I’ve yet to see a physical therapist.  But I have been putting on the Solomon Seal Salve three times a day since seeing my doctor.  I can feel my muscles lengthening and contracting into their proper length.  I can bend my knee all the way back when doing yoga now – something I could not do 2 weeks ago!  The pain has lessened and I’m able to put more and more weight on my left side again! “

As amazing as these stories are, perhaps the most miraculous result we personally had with Solomon’s Seal came to our beloved dog.
After we moved here, during our frequent hikes in our wonderful mountains we eventually noticed Tulsi no longer cavorted joyfully through the forest, but instead would walk out ahead of us on the trail and lie down panting heavily to wait for us as we strolled up to her.  She also seemed to be in discomfort, pain or extreme fatigue when we returned to the car, barely able to get back in or needing to be lifted in.  We feared she might have a life-threatening condition so we took her to the veterinarian who informed us that, not only did she have hip dysplasia, but BOTH her rear ACLs (anterior cruciate ligament) were torn!
He suggested very expensive surgery for the ACLs and no hope for the hip.  Online research Deb did indicated that the surgery, if successful at all, may need to be repeated in about two years.  An alternative therapy she found was extreme rest for an extended time.  Have you ever tried to keep an active dog from running and jumping?

We chose to try the rest therapy anyway and also added a small dose of Solomon’s Seal tincture to every meal.  (She loves it!)  After about a year of that regimen (with probably nowhere near as much ‘rest’ as is recommended?), she seemed completely well and has been her old self ever since (three years now):  jumping over the rock wall, across the creek, happily climbing the mountain out our back yard… chasing our cat! (“Stop, Tulsi, Please!”)  To be ‘safe’ we still give her a little Solomon’s Seal tincture with her food daily (and we do not want to subject her to the trauma of another x-ray to check on the condition of her hip.) We withhold it for about a week every once in a while so she does not build a tolerance for it.  (We don’t know if this is a genuine concern.)  We should add that we also found a holistic vet who supported our use of Solomon’s Seal and suggested adding Omega-3 and other supplements.  We are very lucky to have a vet who knows about and uses homeopathic remedies, flower essences and herbs! 

Other herbalists opinions
Herbalist Jim MacDonald wrote on his website:
“… a woman I knew slipped and fell, wrenching her knee quite badly while I was over at her place. I went out into the woods behind their house, dug some roots up, simmered them for a bit in oil and had her use that topically. She went to the doctor the next day, and was referred to an orthopedic specialist the next day, who said it was quite a bad injury and would likely require surgery. A day after that I dropped off some of the tincture I had made, and then next time she went in to the orthopedist (a couple weeks later), she was told that she had healed phenomenally well and there would be no need for the surgery after all.

“Without doubt, Solomon’s Seal is the most useful remedy I know of for treating injuries to the musculoskeletal system. I’ve used it to treat broken bones, sprains, injured tendons and ligaments, tendonitis, arthritis, dryness in joints and “slipped”/herniated discs (including mine – that sure did hurt…). Solomon’s Seal has the remarkable ability to restore the proper tension to ligaments, regardless of whether they need to be tightened or loosened. This makes it a valuable remedy for sports & activity related injuries, used either before resorting to or along with conventional surgical procedures. I know of several instances when use of Solomon’s Seal prevented the need for surgery, and also have seen it speed recovery time for people who have had surgery.

“I consider Solomon’s Seal an invaluable connective tissue anti-inflammatory. Several people I know swear by Solomon’s Seal as their preferred treatment for arthritis, but its certainly not a universal remedy in this condition. I use it frequently to address tendonitis and repetitive stress injuries; its much more clearly indicated here.”

One of our teachers, herbalist Matthew Wood, also says Solomon’s Seal is an excellent remedy for tendon rehabilitation [i.e., loosens over-tightness and tightens overly stretched/loose ligaments – a pretty smart plant!].  Matthew says this herb will also tighten/bind large joints (knees, hips and shoulders) as well as treat bone spurs. (This action probably immensely helped dear Tulsi with her hip dysplasia!)  Matthew believes Solomon’s Seal also works by helping maintain the joint synovial fluid.  He also agrees (communicated in personal conversations with us) with Mr. MacDonald that Solomon’s Seal use at the first signs of hip or knee problems may eliminate the need for hip or knee replacement procedures.

We have another client whose son’s shoulder keeps popping out of socket.  He sent some of our Solomon’s Seal Tincture to him and we are awaiting a report.

Flower essence
We also make and use a Solomon’s Seal Flower Essence.  It’s one of Deb’s top 5 favorite flower essences.  Deb says the Solomon’s Seal energy is close to the energy of a nursing mama… again, the doctrine of signatures in the pendulous flowers mimicking teats from an udder, dropping down mercy like milk coming to an infant.   “I find her soothing and opening ~ the place that arises naturally when one feels safe from being sheltered and nurtured.   She offers the energy of the mother.”  From our web site: “When taking this essence, one will feel the true healing effects of forgiveness merged with the mercy of the Mother. Humility naturally arises in one who takes this essence as well as compassion towards others because of their self-forgiveness.”

You can purchase several different Solomon’s Seal products online, just search “solomon’s seal” and you will be presented with many options.  Most of these have other appropriate and useful herbal musculoskeletal healing active ingredients in them but we choose to leave our Solomon’s Seal products as ‘simples’ because of its effectiveness.  We believe that by using simples, one can connect to the plant better to allow the healing action.  We also find that it’s easier to tell what is working and what is not!  Why take five or six or more herbs when you only need one!

Our Solomon’s Seal Tincture, Solomon’s Seal Oil and Solomon’s Seal Salve have only the one active ingredient.  We also have a little False Solomon’s Seal Tincture mentioned above.  Since there is no commercial source for this plant we must sustainably wildcraft it hence the price differential.  For the emotional healing power of Solomon’s Seal, you can purchase our  flower essence here.

We have found these to be powerful and useful remedies for joint and tendon health.  Along the way, Solomon’s Seal has become a true and dear friend.  Take care of your joints and tendons – they’ll come in handy along your life journey.

We hope that knowing about Solomon’s seal may come in handy for you if you ever have a need.

With hope and gratitude for the green world,

Organized under Uncategorized. No comments.

Oh, Them Broken Bones

February 20, 2019

Deb broke her calcaneus (heel bone) in early May 2017 while caring for her Mom; and Harry crushed his L1 vertebra when he fell 10 feet off our porch roof this past September.

Accidents happen.  While we can do everything possible to prevent them, sometimes we trip, fall or get injured no matter how careful we are.  Because your children may be at risk of injury on the playground, playing sports or any of dozens of ordinary daily activities, we thought it might be good to share what we know about tending broken bones so that if you are ever faced with having a broken a bone or tending someone who does, you have a resource of healing information.

So, back to our accidents ~

After we sought immediate appropriate professional medical care (by getting Deb to the urgent care center and calling an ambulance [911] for Harry) , we began to apply the things we knew to aid and hopefully accelerate healing of broken bones.

The very first thing that we did when we had our accidents was to use a flower essence specifically for aid during traumatic events:  Bach Flower Essence Rescue Remedy®.  We were very happily surprised that the ER nurses encouraged the use of this remedy, which we carry with us at all times.  When we returned home, we used our own Red Clover flower essence, which provides a very similar support for trauma and shock.

Let’s not build unrealistic expectations:  different types of fractures and different bones take more or less time to heal.  Some bone breaks might take only 4 weeks to heal while other fractures might take 24 weeks or more. And there are factors such as general health, age and other conditions like osteoporosis that affect healing.  So, it is hard to say what ‘normal’ is for any particular person or break.

Having said all the above, our research and herbal training on broken bones revealed in general it is advised to:
~  Avoid inflammation-causing foods like sugars (including high-fructose corn syrup), artificial trans-fats, excessive alcohol and processed meats.  Instead, eat inflammation reducing foods: ‘good’ cooking oils (like olive oil rather than ‘vegetable oil’), tree nuts, fruit, garlic, aromatic culinary herbs, turmeric, chocolate (YA-HOO!!), green tea, beans, onions and avocados.
~  Move as much as is comfortable when you are able without aggravating the break.  (You definitely could have made a lot of money betting on turtles against Harry right after his failed attempt at flight!)  You need to keep your muscles in tone and prevent atrophy. 
~  Get good nights sleep; a lot of repair and healing occurs while you sleep.
~  Also, there is debate about the application of heat and/or cold to an injury like this.  We chose to alternate between the two.  You may decide to take a different course concerning temperature.  Check with your physician.

And, of course, there are several herbs that should assist a body in healing broken bones:

[If you have any kind of negative reaction to any remedy, stop it immediately.]
* Arnica (Arnica montana) taken as a homeopathic remedy orally and/or applied topically as a cream, gel or ointment as soon after the injury as practical should help reduce swelling, bruising and pain.

* A plant called, appropriately, Boneset (yes, it’s pronounced “bone set”) (Eupatorium perfoliatum) assists bones knitting back together.  This three to four foot tall plant with an open head of small white flowers has the interesting ‘signature’ of having its opposite leaves fused together at their base… a strong indicator of its use.  Actually, Boneset is particularly indicated and useful in spinal compression fractures, as it is believed Boneset will open up the crushed bone to allow new bone to be built as it restores the nearly original shape. We believe we observed this in the progressive X-rays of Harry’s spine.

* Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is a powerful aid to healing, but it should be used with a little caution.  Comfrey is a fuzzy perennial plant related to borage with bell-shaped, lavender-colored flowers.  We have a lot (and increasing!) around our home to a point that it might be considered invasive.   It accelerates healing so much that it will cause wounds to close around debris, so make sure wounds are well cleaned and make sure broken bones are properly aligned and set before beginning Comfrey. [Take note:  there is some concern over toxicity of Comfrey root, so only Comfrey leaves should be taken internally as a tincture or water extract.  Also, Comfrey should be avoided during pregnancy.]
* Horsetail rush (Equisetum arvense) is an interesting ‘primitive’ plant (100 million year-old fossils have been found!) that has no true leaves.  It is very high in silica content and acts in aiding strong bone construction.

So, what we did, after the doctors told us the bones were in their proper position to heal and properly immobilized, was to immediately begin our regimen of herbs.  For each of our respective fractures, we took homeopathic Arnica 30c internally once an hour and applied an Arnica gel over the injury three times daily for the first few days.  We also continued to take Red Clover flower essence.  During Harry’s fall, Deb, not surprisingly,  was traumatized as well so she also took Red Clover.

The other above herbs, except Elder, were all taken internally as a tincture (ethyl alcohol extract) thrice daily (except Comfrey, we had overlooked making this tincture [which is most definitely now on our ‘to do’ list for this summer], so we purchased and used homeopathic Symphytum officinale 30c).

We also made infusions (water extracts) of fresh Boneset, Elderberry and Comfrey alternately and drank a quart during the day for several weeks after the accident.  The difference between a tea and infusion is a tea is steeped for 5 to 20 minutes while an infusion is steeped for 4 to 12 hours.  Boneset can be a bit unpleasant so adding a little honey may help render it a little more palatable.  Interestingly, it seems that when Boneset becomes completely unpalatable your body no longer needs it in this form.

And we would take the plant material from the infusions (and Yarrow) and apply a poultice to the skin over the break. (Luckily neither fracture required a solid cast; instead having a brace that was easy to carefully remove to expose the area for treatment then refasten.)

Another tool we employed was homeopathic remedies.
* As mentioned, we used homeopathic Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) 30c.  We also took Silicea 30c (acts similarly to the Equisetum mentioned above), Calcarea carbonica 30c and Calcarea phosphorica 30c all to aid healing and strengthen the new bone being built.  (As mentioned above, we also took Arnica every hour for the first 3 days.)

* Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum spp), which we will discuss in much more detail in a future letter, helps ligaments and tendons heal while helping bone breaks draw together for proper healing.  And beyond helping with fracture healing, Solomon’s Seal helps keep bone joints healthy by helping the body regulate synovial fluids.
* Yarrow (Achillea millifolium) is a wonderful ‘intelligent’ blood herb.  It stops bleeding from an open wound, yet helps blood flow better to where it is needed thus getting nutrients to the healing bone.  It also helps bruises heal quickly.  This herb was especially helpful for Deb’s broken foot, since she had a badly bruised sprain on top of the fracture. [Take note:   Yarrow should be avoided during pregnancy.]
* In addition to the berries being antiviral, especially against influenza, Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) leaves and stems are also a known treatment for broken bones.  Only very dry or very fresh Elderberry material should be used for medicinal purposes since toxins may develop then dissipate as it dries.

* Once the doctors were satisfied the bone(s) had healed sufficiently to abandon the braces so we could begin physical therapy and approach normal activity, we added Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) root tincture and Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) leaf tincture.  Jim McDonald writes: “Teasel root has been used to treat torn connective tissues, and may be among the best remedies for torn muscles.”  Matthew Wood believes Mullein “has a moistening, lubricating effect on the synovial membranes… so that it is hydrating to the spine and joints. It is often indicated in back injuries.  People think they are untreatable and incurable, but an increase [of] the synovial fluids will make the spine more pliable and comfortable. The vertebra will slip back into place more readily, pain and inflammation will decrease and the condition will get better.” Jim McDonald agrees that Mullein is valuable in straightening and realigning the spine, though he suspects a different specific action.  We probably should have added these two herbs sooner, especially for Harry.

The last two things we did were to employ Reiki (pronounced “RAY-key”) and Qi (pronounced “chi”) healing energies (which we and a friend are all able to do) to aid healing during incapacitation.  (Probably not as much as we could/should have since we were more focused on care and comfort of the patient and herbs – and, honestly, initially forgot [Doh!] we had this tool in our repertoire.)  And, finally, when mobility had returned enough to allow, Qi Gong exercises helped immensely to finish the healing processes.

We estimate we increased our bone and other tissue healing rates by mmm… maybe 10 to 20%?  That may not seem significant, but every day quicker returning to ‘normal’ is valuable. (Maybe more,  since Harry was out uprooting wild invasive rose bushes – 15 minutes at a time – 4 months after his fall!)  And less pain is always a good thing too!  Don’t you agree?

While it is not likely you will often (if ever) need a full set of bone building remedies, it might be a good idea to have a few herbs in your home first aid kit.
* Arnica gel or cream, which you can get at most drugstores, is handy for bruises and overworked muscles.  Homeopathic Arnica would be good for the same reasons and may be easier to use if applying topical Arnica is a problem (like reaching the middle of your own back or you can’t get to the damaged area due to a cast).  It is also a must have for days when you’ve physically overworked and your body hurts.
* Yarrow dried leaves (for making a compress or poultice) or tincture is also good at healing bruises as well as stopping bleeding of cuts (the dried leaves for cuts, not the tincture –Yow!).

* Solomon’s Seal tincture or oil (or salve) is good to have on hand for repetitive motion injuries or strains and sprains.  It’s also a good for arthritis.
* Red Clover Flower Essence for times of great shock, trauma or distress.

 One more thing:  if you have broken a bone in the past and it still hurts, using the above herbs and homeopathic remedies may still aid your body’s healing now – even years after the injury.  The same is true with using other herbs and homeopathic remedies for many illnesses or trauma.  Use the herbs that you would have used at the time of the injury/illness to treat longstanding issues and residual pain or distress.

So… go outside, enjoy nature, have fun, be careful and when an unforeseen accident breaks a bone, consider calling on nature for some assistance.  We hope your children don’t have a fall off the monkey bars or an injury when playing soccer but if they do ~ or you do ~ we hope this information is of help to you!

We covered a lot here.  Let us reiterate:  each case is different, so if you use any of this information, your results may be different.   We may be able to offer advice to help you more effectively individually should this or other situations require it – especially if the injury is not straight-forward.  You can contact Deb here.

You can purchase Solomon’s Seal tincture here.  We also have a limited supply of Solomon’s Seal salve you can get here.
To have Sacred Forest Red Clover Flower Essence on hand for shock, please click here.
To your health, happiness and wellbeing,

[Also, let us say that we are not dispensing medical advice or making suggestions for treatment of any disease or condition.  We are merely reporting our experiences.  Seek proper professional medical advice for any medical condition about which you are concerned.  Any statements and claims regarding any product or advice offered have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).]

Organized under Herbs, Medicinal. No comments.

You’ll Miss a Lot Viewing the World Through a Straw

January 21, 2019

Greetings, Friends:
We apologize for being out of touch for more than a year. This letter will explain why and offer a (perhaps) cautionary tale and useful advice. During that time we have learned a lot… about herbs, health and life. We have arrived at several interesting (we think) insights. We will be sharing some of these with you here and in the future. We hope you find at least one of them useful.

When we first married, 14 years ago, Deb had some scary and very worrying neurological symptoms. Several doctors and specialists did many tests and ultimately pronounced that her problem could be any of several dread conditions, but they had no specific diagnosis. Eventually, it was determined that she had been infected with several tick-born rickettsia that were slowly, increasingly affecting her health.

About two years ago, Deb’s Mom was finally diagnosed with 4th stage breast cancer. We say ‘finally’ because she had been having various seemingly unrelated but serious symptoms. One of which was skin lesions or sores. She was given a salve to ‘treat’ them. Another symptom was rapidly deteriorating sight in one eye. The ‘cure’ was a new vision prescription. By the time it was ready it was no longer effective. ‘Finally’, a third medical professional took the larger view and figured out that the eyesight problem was caused by a tumor growing under her eye socket distorting and mis-aligning the eyeball, which was actually a manifestation of breast cancer, which also caused the skin lesions. The first doctors were looking at Mom through the straw of their narrow-focused perspective and specialty. They did not consider looking at her issues with a broader, more holistic view.

Six months later, Deb fell and broke her foot while visiting and caring for Mom up north. Her break was treated more or less appropriately, but a painful fascia tear over her shinbone was missed initially – we assume because it was not a ‘bone problem’ which that orthopedic doctor could/did not recognize (or did not mention) through the straw of his specialty focus on the broken bone.

In her last days, Mom fell out of her bed at the care facility. Immediately, she complained of her arm hurting. Nothing was done except to give her analgesic medications. They did not catch the broken arm until she had suffered a while. With what straw were they looking at Mom – if any?

This past September, Harry thoroughly forgot his childhood flying lessons as he slipped from our porch roof and crushed his L1 vertebra. Thankfully, the hospital staff began looking at him with a broad-field view to ascertain what damage had occurred during the uncontrolled landing. However, again this orthopedic doctor (who thankfully did NOT recommend risky surgery) switched to his specialist’s straw and never really satisfactorily explained why all Harry’s pain was not at the break but elsewhere. Harry’s physical therapist concentrated on restoring muscle strength and mobility, but the pain did not abate. Recently, a young EMT friend suggested that Harry’s pain might likely be from the many tendons and sinews that were likely traumatized upon impact. No one else mentioned this possibility.

One big lesson learned from all these dealings with the American medical establishment is this: a proper medical approach (and with other non-medical endeavors and life in general, too, we would suggest) is to begin with as broad a ‘view’ as possible before narrowing in on specifics. To summarize the analogy: start with the panoramic survey, then bring in the binoculars or magnifying glass and finally employ the microscopes if needed. Do not start with viewing the world through a straw and zoom in… there is so much you will miss.

The other major lesson and point of this letter is to mention that much of the actual ‘care’ and ‘healing’ involved in all the above was through the use of our flower essences, tinctures, infusions, poultices and salves we have collected and made.

Deb helped her Mom through the emotional aspects of her disease with our flower essences and some of her other issues with our tinctures, etc . Deb has been treating, with the help of another herbalist, her own Lyme and other tick-borne diseases with herbs. We believe Deb’s foot and Harry’s back healed more quickly than ‘normal’ (according to the doctors) with our administration of the proper herbs. Recently, a consultation with two other herbalists confirmed our correct treatment of Harry’s back and suggested (again in agreement with our own assessment and approach at this stage of recovery) a slight adjustment to our treatment which quickly addressed his lingering pain and debility. Also, Harry’s injury took us out of our usual Qi Gong sessions. Since he has been able to move more easily and go through some simple Qi Gong routines, his pain has abated and mobility improved even more.

To take this philosophy out into the wider world: We believe there is much healing available in that wider world. Wisdom flows through the interactions at the most macro and micro of scales: the interplay of the heavens and heavenly bodies; the turning of the seasons; how our neighbor plants and animals adjust and adapt to this flow; how one organism benefits or affects another.

Much benefit can come to those who participate in this cosmic and earthly pageant. Scientific studies have shown that participating in the grand design by merely walking in the woods, through a meadow or along a beach can improve one’s physical and mental health. And, of course, we definitely believe there is also much healing in individual plants and working with your internal energy (Qi – pronounced “chi”). (More on both later.)

In conclusion, we suggest you approach your life – and every aspect of your health in a broad-spectrum, holistic, panoramic way. When problems occur, don’t treat the symptoms; correct the root cause. Set aside the straws. Take off the blinders. Go outside. (Yes, we know it’s cold in January, still there is much beauty and healing out there!)

And, with Deb’s compassion, care and increasing knowledge and honed skills, it is possible we may be able to help a little with some things that may ail you. If you think we may be of assistance, please contact us .

Peace and health,

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New Year Wishes for 2017 and Beyond

December 31, 2016

May you walk immersed in fields of wildflowers; barefoot in teeming creeks; awed along ridge-tops with endless horizons.  May you climb welcoming trees and savor ripe fruit from their branches.

May you feel the fair breeze caress your skin, hear its voice and understand its language.

May you revel in rich damp soil and smell the ‘green’ of fresh snap peas and the ‘red’ of perfect tomatoes in the garden.

May you laugh often and deeply hand in hand with those you love as you explore Nature together.

Love and starlight to you ~ now and always,
Deb and Harry
Your Grandparents of the Forest

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Plant Now for Flowers Next Year!

November 9, 2016

Contributed by HarryHarry closeup glasses

As the weather cools down, you may find yourself dreaming of NEXT year’s flower bouquets.

bouquet_june_486Now is the time to prepare for at least some of your future garden, because many plants, usually biennials (plants that have a two year life cycle), need a period of cold before they will bloom.

larkspur-row-farmagrostemma-farmPlants like Agrostemma (corn cockles), Bupleurum, bachelor buttons, larkspur, Nigella, Saponaria (soapwort), Scabiosa (pincushion flower) that bloom in early spring can be planted now by direct seed. (Though it may be too late in some areas –check with your local cooperative extension office.) Follow the directions provided on the seed packet or catalog for soil depth and exact timing (larkspur, for example won’t germinate if the soil is too warm).


Other biennials/perennials, like foxglove, Echinacea, snapdragons, lupine and Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan), Dianthus (sweet William) and others should have been started as seed back in mid- to late summer, but if you can find starts (young plants) at your local nursery, now is the time to get them in.foxglove-farm-perennial-bed


Yet other flowers like cosmos, zinnia, sunflowers and many more are annuals and are planted in spring.  So dream on and make your plans for them in patience.



august-flower-fieldOr, if you would rather have Nature do your gardening for you in a ‘wilder’ setting, there are some native wildflowers with which you can assist.

cardinal-flowerI am having a hard time thinking of a brighter red naturally occurring in wild Nature than a Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) other than its namesake, a mature male Cardinal himself. The North American native Cardinal Flower grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 through 9 in wet, poorly drained places, though they also grow in drier conditions. (Cornell University claims they may survive even in Zone 2!)

Cardinal Flower prefers full sun in cooler climates but needs part shade in the warmer part of its range. (They are very happy in the middle of our wet Zone 6 mountain meadow.)

To have your own intensely red insect attractant, collect the seed when the seed heads have matured (or purchase from a reputable seed source) and scatter the tiny seeds where you want them to establish. (Where you can easily see them, of course!) Scatter these seeds in late fall soon after they ripen or through early Spring since they also need to be “stratified” by cold to germinate. Do not cover them because, as with most tiny seeds, they need light to germinate.

Since Cardinal Flower is a short-lived perennial, let the plants reseed (which they should do naturally) to maintain the population.

joe-pye-yellow-swallowtailThe tall pink-lavender topped Joe-Pye Weed (there are several Eutrochium species) with its whorled leaves is native to Zones 4 through 9. Growing and germinating conditions for Joe-Pye Weed are similar to Cardinal Flower. You might want to plant these as more of a ‘backdrop’ since these plants can get quite tall.


great-blue-lobelia-fieldAnd Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) is also native to Zones 2 through 9, from the Atlantic coast to the Rocky Mountains and blooms in late summer with the other two flowers above. Growing and germinating conditions are the same as above for this beautiful, though somewhat shorter, plant.

These three plants bloom in late summer (late July to  early September around here) when the bees need to be collecting nectar for winter honey stores and before the later Asters and Goldenrod begin blooming.


Get out there and beautify the future!

Organized under Gardening, Harry, Spring, Summer, Winter. No comments.


September 23, 2016

Contributed by HarryHarry closeup glasses


Yesterday, I was scooping water from our little stream to water in some transplants and caught this little critter.  It brought back many memories.


In Louisiana, there are hunting seasons, fishing seasons and seasons for harvesting the various indigenous shellfish: shrimp, oysters, crabs and crawfish. You may know these crustaceans as “crayfish” or “crawdads” or “mudbugs”, but I grew up calling them “crawfish”.

There are several ways to crawfish (verb).

I remember going out at night with my parents and grandparents collecting crawfish as they traveled from their burrows to who knows where… maybe to visit their girlfriends. Their burrows where easy to spot: the crawfish would build a ‘chimney’ around the entrance to the hole with little balls of mud. I have seen crawfish chimneys several inches tall.

Each person had a pail and a light: either a flashlight, or headlamp or white-gas lantern. We roamed around a field near a swamp searching for the crustaceans. When we found one, we would step gently on its head and pick it up by its tail. You pinned its head with your foot so it would not pinch your fingers with its big claws that it waved around in self-defense.


Another memory came to me that I cannot shake.  It involves another way to catch crawfish.

When I was very young, maybe 4 or 5 years old, my Dad took me crawfishing across the river. That would be the west bank of the Mississippi River.

You can catch crawfish in a special net or trap. The net we used was a cotton net (My paternal Grandpa could make these nets! It may be a lost art now.) suspended between two pieces of stiff wire bent to form the top four sides of a pyramid with the net being the bottom of the pyramid. The net-bottomed pyramid is placed in water about 12 to 18 inches deep so that the top of the wire pyramid is visible above the water surface. You usually tie a piece of brightly colored cloth to the top so the net is easy to spot as you ‘run your line’. I can still see the bright dark red strips of cloth identifying our traps.

Now, crawfish are freshwater, bottom-dwelling scavengers. They particularly like chicken necks. So most people tie a piece of chicken neck in the center of the net to attract the critters.

If you ‘fish’ from a bank you use a long pole with a hook – sometimes just a nail or screw put into the side of one end – to reach out, quietly move the end of the pole under the apex of the pyramid, quickly lift it out of the water, swing it over a tub or bucket to dump your catch. You have to do this quickly since the net has no sides and the crawfish will swim or scuttle out – backwards, as that is how they move – if you are too slow.


Well, this particular crawfishing trip I remember so vividly, was to a pond – or swamp – that didn’t have a shore we could walk along.

Dad had 20 or 30 traps (maybe more or less – it was a long time ago and I was little so everything is probably remembered much bigger than it really was). The two wires that held the net were attached at the apex in such a way they that they sprung apart when the net was flipped once or twice.

All the traps were opened and set out like rows of ghost tents as Dad tied the bait in the center of each net.

Then came the part I remember best.

I climbed on my Dad’s back with my arms around his neck and my legs around his waist as he waded out into the pond and set each trap in a big circle in the water.

When we got back to the start we waited. I don’t remember how long, for a child that young, it was probably interminable. Then I climbed back on Dad’s back and he walked s-l-o-w-l-y around the pond from trap to trap with a pole in one hand and a galvanized washtub floating beside us. You know:  the kind of tub you fill with ice to chill watermelon on a hot summer day, or wash your dog in.

He moved slowly to not scare the crawfish away from their short feast in our nets. In one smooth motion, he would reach out with the pole lift the trap, let is slide down the pole, over the tub and then tip our prey out. He would pick out the under-sized ones and toss them back… probably to be caught several more times before the day was over.

This had to have been a difficult and amazing feat to perform with a small child half strangling him and in such a way as to not dump said clinging cargo into the water. You know, it’s possible I rode on Dad’s shoulders straddling his neck, but that is not the memory that sticks.

We went around and around the pond, me encumbering him, until the tub was full enough for a big dinner for the whole family.


Let me tell you, a shellfish dinner in Louisiana (maybe other places, too, but I grew up there and not elsewhere) is quite an affair:

Huge pots of water are brought to a boil and special Cajun seafood spices are added then the entrée are dumped in and cooked. This works for crawfish, crabs or shrimp… and we are usually talking a bushel or two of food at a time!

In the meantime, the dining table is covered in several layers of newspaper.

When the seafood is done cooking – not more than a very few minutes – it is extracted from the pot and dumped into the middle of the table in a huge pile. Shells and other inedible parts are placed onto separate dishes or special metal platters.

When the last crawfish is consumed or peeled and set aside – because it is seldom the case that it is all eaten – to go into a later gumbo or jambalaya, the whole multilayer newspaper table covering is folded and rolled into one big bundle and put in the trash.


You don’t have to carry your child into the swamps to strongly imprint lasting memories of the outdoors. There are plenty of other adventures awaiting for you and them.  What wonderful memories can you create with your child?


Organized under Amphibians, Harry. No comments.

The Growing Season Ends

September 13, 2016

Contributed by HarryHarry closeup glasses

Hopefully, you have had a successful garden this year and, literally, enjoyed the fruits of your labor.

If you have followed our Gardening with Children Guide, you will soon be finishing this year’s activities and harvesting the last veggies and enjoying and cutting the last flowers.

What now?

If your plants have finished producing, it is time to pull them out.   “Finished producing” means the plants are dead or dying or all the fruit is harvested and no more flowers are appearing promising more fruit. If they are healthy, you can put them in your compost.  If they are infested with pests or disease, it is best to remove them by putting them in a plastic bag, tying it closed and disposing of it.  If you don’t pull this year’s dead plants out, they may set and shed seed.  This is not a problem, but if you want to ‘rotate your crops’ you may have to deal with ‘weeds’ next year.

I tend to have dill and cilantro all over my garden every year.  A random marigold is a whimsical addition (and some marigolds deter nematodes).  This may be a blessing, not a problem, but some larger plants, like tomatoes and kale might end up crowding out the things you plant next year if left to their own devices.

open-bean-pods-gotfIf you intentionally let some of your crops go to seed, like the dill, cilantro, beans, calendula, sunflowers, etc. (see our Facebook posts on the subject), it should be about time to collect those seeds if you have not already.  Once the seeds are collected you can pull out the plants and add them to the compost.

We assume you have been weeding your garden, whether in the ground or in containers, all through the growing season to cut down on competition from ‘weeds’ for precious nutrients and water.  Even though your garden is finishing up, you should pull out and remove all ‘weeds’ that may have escaped notice.  If they are flowering or have seeds on them you should not put them in your compost.  Compost needs to get pretty hot to kill seeds.


“Nature abhors a vacuum.”  That means if some thing is not growing in a space, some other thing will arrive to fill it.  So bare soil will invite seeds blown or dropped in to germinate and root.

You can prevent this in a couple of different ways:

If you are growing in containers and they are small enough to easily move, put them some place where they are not exposed to rain and light.  Any weed seeds will be less likely to germinate over winter.

If you are growing in the ground you can:

1) Mulch the soil with three or four inches of grass clippings, shredded leaves, wood chips, straw, etc.  This will protect the soil from erosion and compaction.  It will protect the bacteria, earthworms and other denizens of the soil from the harsh extremes of winter.  It will also deny weed seeds light so any seeds that do germinate will die due to lack of light.  Those that do make it through the mulch will be easy to remove.  And as the mulch decomposes, it will add nutrients to the soil.

2) Grow a ‘cover crop’ like crimson clover, rye grain (not rye grass) or mustard.  This will do several things.  It will prevent erosion and compaction.  It will maintain the soil microbiology through winter.  And a legume like crimson clover will add Nitrogen to the soil; rye is “allelopathic” meaning it prevents other plants from growing, so it is a natural weed prevention; mustards kill or suppress diseases and pests.  (Many farmers plant all three for maximum over-winter benefit!  We used to do that on our farm.)  In the spring, you can either cut these to put them in your compost or chop them up (mow them down) and turn them into the soil to break down and add more organic matter to the soil.  If you do grow rye as a winter cover and turn it into your soil, wait two weeks before growing.  The allelopathy will dissipate by then.

3) If you are in a Hardiness Zone which is not too extreme, you can grow a cold tolerant crop into the winter!  If you start your winter crop early enough (now or earlier, depending on the crop and your location), you can be eating kale, carrots, beets, parsley, spinach, collards, lettuce, etc. for quite a while, maybe all the way to spring!  In our Zone 7 farm, we fed customers 10 months a year and ate from our fields all year round!

onionsIf you like garlic or onions and have the room, now is the time to plant some so it will be ready next year.  The onions in the photo at left are bunching onions.  We will pull them through the winter to add to recipes.  Notice the straw mulch to keep down weeds.


[If your containers are large or immobile, you can do these things to them also!]


Also, if you grow in the ground, now is a good time to have your soil tested.  If needed, agricultural lime applied now will have time to “sweeten” the soil for your next year’s garden.  The results of a soil test will tell you how much to use.

So, a little flurry of activity now as autumn advances will help give you a head start on spring – or you can continue enjoying produce for a while yet.

We hope this helps you continue to enjoy your garden and Nature.  Remember to explain to your young helpers what and why you are doing.  Don’t let good ‘teaching moments’ escape.

Organized under Autumn, Gardening, Harry. No comments.

Good Plants to Know, Part 1

September 7, 2016

Contributed by HarryHarry closeup glasses

When out and about, whether in the ‘wild’ or wandering through ‘civilization’, there are several plants useful to be able to recognize.


The first is Plantain. This common weed came with the European colonists and is everywhere.

Narrow-leaf Plantain

Narrow-Leaf Plantain

Wide-leaf Plantain

Wide-leaf Plantain

There are two species: Narrow-leaf (Plantago lanceolata) and Wide-leaf (Plantago major). They both work equally well. This is a good plant to be able to recognize when you get stung by an insect.

Pick a couple of leaves, chew them up and apply the chewed pulp to the bite. The saliva is important in activating the healing.


The next plant it would help to know is Jewelweed or Wild Touch-Me-Not. Its second name comes from the explosive way the fruit shatters to spread its seeds.

There are two species of this plant also: Spotted (Impatiens capensis), with orange flowers and Pale (Impatiens pallida) with pale yellow flowers. Both species get their more common name, Jewelweed, from the silvery shimmer a leaf submerged in water displays.

Spotted Jewelweed

Spotted Jewelweed

Pale Jewelweed Flower

Pale Jewelweed Flower

This succulent plant is often found in moist soil, along streambeds, forest edges and roadsides. It is also often found near Poison Ivy – which is a good thing because Jewelweed is an antidote for Poison Ivy rash!

Just pick some leaves and stems, crush them up and rub the pulp on the exposed skin.



The next plant is useful to know so you can avoid it: Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans, formerly Rhus toxicodendron). It is characterized by three waxy-leathery leaflets and a very ‘hairy’ vine stem. It has white flowers and berries and the leaves turn a beautiful red in autumn.

Poison Ivy seedling

Poison Ivy seedling

Poison Ivy Stem

Poison Ivy Stem

The winter-dormant roots and long-dead vines will still have the urushiol toxin, so it is good to know what they look like also. The roots tend to be orangish-yellow with many side rootlets.

If you rub against this plant, wash with cold water and LOTS of soap with scrubbing as soon as possible. If a rash develops, rub the rash with Jewelweed.



Lastly, Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a good friend to have around.

Put a poultice of yarrow leaves and flowers on a bruise to help it heal quicker.



And Yarrow leaves will stop bleeding from wounds like cuts, punctures and scrapes. You can dry the fine feathery leaves and carry them with you in an emergency first-aid kit.

When going out, know your friends.  Have fun and be safe.

Organized under Harry, Medicinal. No comments.

Shared Meals from the Garden ~

July 26, 2016

Contributed by Deb

garden bountyOur garden was completely full last week and now, we have some vacant rows.  We’ve dug all the potatoes and garlic and the first planting of beans are finishing up, the second planting of beans are ready to begin harvesting ~ and now, it’s time to plant more for fall.  We can almost do a complete meal from the garden when we use squash, the first of the tomatoes, dill, cilantro, beets, cabbage, lettuce and tiny baby carrots. We also have some ‘alien-looking’ kolrabi that is about the right size to harvest.

Cabbage, Zucchini, Sungold cherry tomatoes, yellow 'wax' beans and coriander (Cilantro seed)

Cabbage, Zucchini, Sungold cherry tomatoes, yellow ‘wax’ beans and coriander (Cilantro seed)

Harry and I, of course, eat nearly every meal together.  Harvesting from the garden, cooking together and then eating meals together is one of our favorite things in the whole world. Everything tastes better and is fresher, of course, but the added touch of love and care that is shared gives extra nutrition for body and soul.  I often forget that the extra love and prayers that I can add to my cooking will be felt by those eating the meal!

We both had a tradition from our childhoods.  Sundays were special.  My grandparents came for dinner and would bring food from their garden or the farm roadside markets in my home state of Ohio. Mom would always have fresh pies in the summer – blueberry, strawberry, cherry, peach – even grape! (Yes, she peeled and pitted each grape!).  Harry always ate Sunday lunch and/or supper at one or the other of his grandparents homes.  Vegetables often came from the gardens, either fresh or frozen, and the meat was often raised and butchered by a relative.  His maternal Grandma often made a lemon meringue pie for his Dad.

Our children are scattered to the winds, but these traditions are still practiced by others:  one of our neighbor’s house is filled every Sunday afternoon with offspring and grandchildren.

Such simple things ~ and yet they can make a positive impact on us that lasts a lifetime.

Organized under Deb, Uncategorized. No comments.